>> Kachin Traditional Food Fair | Eat the World NYC

12 December 2017

Kachin Traditional Food Fair


The northernmost state of Myanmar is Kachin State, a place that has seen perpetual conflict for most of the last 50 years. Always wishing to operate with more autonomy, the Kachin people have their own government and institutions in place where they can.

Enough of these people exist in New York City that 2017 marked the first Kachin Traditional Food Fair. The words Myanmar or Burma were absent from anything in the advertising or atmosphere, only the green and red flag with two crossed blades of the Kachin Independence Organization was visible, along with red and green balloons to continue the theme.

Thankfully, the conflict seems to have been left at home, as many ethnic-Burmese were also in attendance and sampling the rare foods that could not be found at some of the other events taking place here throughout the year.

A small sampling of goods and costume was on display and possibly for sale, but everyone seemed to be here to eat. Like most Burmese events, the listed start time was about the latest you wanted to show up, as the dining hall of the Elmhurst Baptist Church was already buzzing at this time with people filling up to go bags.

My first stop was for Myitkyina noodles ($5, above and below), named for the capital city of Kachin State. This dish shared a lot in common with many Burmese and Shan noodle salads, with overlapping ingredients and presentation, but slightly new tastes.

Warm tofu with noodle ($5, above and below) was another noodle salad new to me. The picture above gives a good look at the thin layer of warm homemade tofu that is layered on top of the rice noodles. As common throughout the country, the rest of the ingredients were put on top and a bowl of soup was offered on the side. This can either be enjoyed on its own or used with the noodles.

Chicken curry ($5, below) was one of three curries on offer, with pork and beef also available. Some views of all three are available at the bottom from a meal cooked the next day with everything bought for takeout.

Possibly the fastest selling item was the black sticky rice dessert ($4, below), which was gone by the time I tried to buy one. Luckily a generous tablemate pulled hers out for a photo op.

The Kachin steamed fish ($6, below) is popular enough that you see it in larger cities of Myanmar, and was selling fast at the food fair. These vendors sold it in spicy and non-spicy versions, and also offered a steamed vegetables ($5, below) as well, everything neatly wrapped in banana leaves for cooking.

Circling counter-clockwise around another steamed fish in the center, a meal the next day consisted of Kachin congee, fried chicken with sticky rice, and all three curries. Of note is the beautiful congee, which was full of flavor. Kachin state shares a border with China, but their take on this dish is so much more vibrant.

This event took place on the 2nd of December, 2017. Please follow the NYC Kachin Fellowship for information about future events and don't forget to show up early! Next time the vendors should be prepared for a large demand.

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